The days of FM radio are numbered, at least in Norway. Beginning later this week, Norway will begin switching off its FM radio network as it transitions to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). It’s the first country to commit to such a change, though depending on how it goes, other countries may soon follow suit.
Though Norway is moving full steam ahead with its plan to make FM radio a thing of the past, the move has been met with some controversy. According to Reuters, a whopping 66% of Norwegian citizens oppose the switch, with only 17% saying they’re in favor of it. A major concern, according to that report, are the two million cars that aren’t equipped for the changeover.
Ole Joergen Torvmark, head of Digital Radio Norway, says that a good DAB converter for cars can cost around 1,500 Norwegian Crowns, which is around $175, so the changeover could be somewhat costly for a lot of Norwegians. When you combine that with the number of FM radios that will no longer work once the transition is complete, it’s no wonder that nearly 70% of respondents view the switch unfavorably.
Still, the switch isn’t without its benefits. Digital broadcasting offers better sound than FM radio, and in a country like Norway where there are a lot of mountains and fjords, the increased strength of digital signals will be a big help. Digital Audio Broadcasting can support many more radio stations than FM can, which is another potential plus of the changeover.
So, all other things being equal, DAB is the better choice, but it means some short term pain for people who need to switch over their radios. Presumably, countries could also keep their FM networks running as more people complete the transition to DAB, but in Norway’s case, it sounds like keeping both active would be too costly.
Norway expects the transition to be complete before the end of the year, so we’ll have a better handle on the problems this changeover causes then. Just as well, with other countries watching it may not be long before we hear of more nationwide changeovers once Norway’s is in the books.